The Guardian September 20, 2000


Truckies boycott oil companies

Truck drivers throughout Australia are contemplating further action 
against oil companies to force a reduction in prices. This follows a 
boycott of BP by truck drivers in Queensland last week.

Many truck drivers operate as "owner-drivers". They differ from other small 
businesses because of the immense size of the capital that is invested in 
the purchase of their rigs. As a result, many run their businesses on a 
"knife-edge" of profitability, and a large, rapid increase in the price of 
fuel can seriously threaten their economic viability.

There are already numerous cases of truck drivers being forced off the road 
by the latest price rises, which have seen a rise of some 6.5 cents per 
litre over several weeks, and in some cases trucks have been repossessed 
because the drivers have been unable to meet loan repayments.

The truck drivers are supported by many small farmers, who are also 
suffering from the crippling fuel price increases.

The price rises stem in part from increases in the price of crude oil, but 
it is widely believed that the oil companies themselves are using this as 
an opportunity to add their own increases, which they then blame on the oil 
producers.

In Europe truck drivers have taken action against rising fuel prices by 
blockading highways, and in Britain the oil refineries themselves were 
blockaded by angry truck drivers and farmers.

However, the Australian situation has been made significantly worse by the 
weak Australian dollar, and in particular by the imposition of six-monthly 
increases in fuel excise in line with inflation.

The increase in excise alone is expected to result in a rise of between two 
per cent and three per cent next February because of the impact of the 
goods and services tax.

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